Angus One founder buys Miniature World in Victoria

Pictured: George Devlin, owner of Miniature World for nearly five decades, with the King Arthur's Camelot exhibit, added in 2014. Devlin has sold the attraction to Angus One founder and president Sarah Angus | Photo: Adrian Lam, Times Colonist

Sarah Angus, the founder and president of Angus One Professional Recruitment in Vancouver, has purchased Miniature World in Victoria from George Devlin, who has owned the attraction since 1971.

The fixture at the Fairmont Empress Hotel since 1971 has been bought by Sarah Angus.

Angus, who is married to Alan McGillivray, owner of Prince of Whales Whale Watching, said she’s not planning any changes to the attraction, which features scenes of “fact, fiction and fantasy” depicted in miniature.

“We’re really excited about this. We are very happy to be able to carry it on,” Angus said. “We are really happy George entrusted us with it and left it in such good shape.”

Not only is the attraction in good shape, it recently had new life breathed into it, and still has 17 years on its lease at the hotel.

In 2014, Devlin expanded Miniature World by adding a 1,000-square-foot wing to showcase King Arthur’s Camelot. The exhibit, which features dioramas and scenes that detail the legend of King Arthur, was three years in the making and cost about $1 million to create.

Devlin said the time was right to sell.

“The fact I’m now 78 is one of the reasons. I’m slowing down a bit,” he said “It’s been emotional, it’s been bittersweet. It’s something I’ve been at for 47 years and really enjoyed it.”

While he loved coming up with new scene ideas, his independence and being his own boss, Devlin said it’s the kids he’ll miss the most.

“I really enjoyed going through [the exhibits] and listening to people, especially the little children, they got all kinds of excited,” Devlin said. “My office was also right next to a wall where a lot of kids could enjoy looking into London Town and its theatre and press a button and they could see their faces on the screen — you would hear the screams and the oohs and aahs, they really thought that was pretty neat.

“And the kids running around, there was so much for them to see they didn’t know what they wanted to see first.”

Devlin said he knows he’s leaving the company in good hands.

“I think they are the natural ones, that’s why I approached them,” Devlin said. “They are longtime Victoria residents and have been very successful in their businesses and they have a family. Hopefully this will just carry on.”

Angus said the opportunity to take on the business was too good to pass.

“I’m always interested in other opportunities and this one came along,” she said. “It’s really well run and has been for so many years. We met George and really felt comfortable with it.”

Angus said the business is humming along nicely and there are no plans to change anything.

“I just think the smart thing to do is let the staff be comfortable with us and not make any changes, definitely not for this season, and see how it goes,” she said. “We don’t want to mess with it. It’s been successful so we want to watch, observe and let it go.”

Angus believes the attraction appeals to all ages, and at $15 for what is usually an hour-long visit remains good value for the money, and something a family can do rain or shine.

Devlin believes the same thing and was passionate about the exhibits from the moment he started the business in 1971 with nine dioramas.

In a 2014 interview, Devlin said the “wonderment at being a giant looking down on something” appealed to the child in everyone.

“It’s fact, fiction and history all blended into a way of entertaining people ... I’m still amazed by it,” he said.

Since it opened, more than seven million visitors have passed through Miniature World.

Over the past 47 years, the attraction has grown to more than 85 exhibits that take people across Canada, through battles and wars, dip into the fairy-tale realm and out into space.

Times Colonist